Sabretooth & The Exiles #4
After making it out of the Astral Plane and barely surviving the fall of Station 2, Sabretooth & The Exiles have found themselves a momentary respite aboard their ship, The Maroon. Now joined by Doctor Barrington's mutant prisoners, there seems to be no shortage of those ready to fight the good fight against these horrific experiments as the penultimate chapter begins to unfold.
SABRETOOTH & THE EXILES continues to be a book that delicately balances the absurdity of our titular characters with the grimy implications of Dr. Barrington’s racially motivated experiments. Mixing someone like The Nanny with any form of body horror should lead straight into conceptual surrealism no matter the execution, but this issue especially exemplifies why the clashes of tone still work.
We spend a lot of time with our characters talking as they grow ever closer to Station Four. Seeing Nanny and Orphan Maker interact with the refugees of Station Two felt real and warm, setting up the soul crushing tell all that Sabretooth espouses later on in the book. Moments such as Toad feeling left out of group decisions and being bitter because of it come by quick but build up who these characters are at the foundations in a great way. Yes, mutant body horror with real world implications and metal, egg shaped, caretakers shouldn’t work together, but when characters feel real and are taken seriously, anything can work. If you’ve felt a little disconnected from the characters in this series prior to this issue, the problems LaVelle has had maintaining such a large cast have all but melted away. Solely on display is his well-rounded character work.
This issue (and series for that matter) utilizes a concept that has a lot of merit and should be explored deeply in the future. As Sabretooth addresses the refugees, he touches on being an outsider within a group of outsiders, and whether that makes them radicals or not is so ahead of the public conversations we, the people in the real world, are having right now. At times inclusivity can seem like a club decided by the rich and influential, instead of focusing on everyone who has been unfairly repressed by society at large. Not being ‘krakoan’ enough and the ‘mutant identity’ is a major theme in this book that was expressly spelled out within this issue. The book doesn’t shy away from commenting on the potential radicalization that occurs within both trains of thought, adding a depth to its commentary.
This chapter isn’t just all character building and philosophical rumination either. Towards the end we get a quick action sequence to upset the peace The Exiles had garnered for a sheer second, which leads into our ‘man in shadow’ from issues prior finally being revealed. While I won’t spoil who it is, it’s a reunion for our titular character with the potential to spur growth and emotional reconciliation. Leonard Kirk renders everything well, putting a great effort into backgrounds and character details that are well appreciated.
LaVelle, as a writer, had struggled in previous issues to balance out all the characters within this book, but as we cross the finish line, he's found his footing. An excellent job has been done balancing entertainment with commentary, and we've been set up for a stellar conclusion. Not only is issue #4 the best so far, but it has me looking forward to the next in a way I hadn't before.
Sabretooth & The Exiles #4: Rest & Reunions
- Writing - 8.5/108.5/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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